16 April 2020

Just 1.72 per cent of the social care workforce has had Covid-19 tests extended to themselves or a family member, Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.

Responding to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard at the Virtual Leaders’ Scottish Parliament Question Time session on Thursday, the First Minister said "just under 20% of the 12,300 health and care workers who have been tested are in the social care sector".

According to the Scottish Government, there are just under 143,000 people employed in adult social care services in Scotland, meaning the number tested is equivalent to just 1.72 per cent.

This is despite the Scottish Government announcing the start of key worker testing on March 24 - over three weeks ago.

The First Minister also stated on April 2: "It's absolutely vital as many nurses and healthcare workers as possible can be tested."

Speaking after the session, Mr Leonard said: "Staff absences have soared in the care sector, and families across Scotland are deeply worried about their relatives living and working in our care homes.

"It is deeply concerning that such a small proportion of social care staff have had tests extended to themselves or a family member. The First Minister must take urgent steps to redress this.

"I have repeatedly called for the number of social care workers tested to be regularly reported. These figures show that progress has been incredibly slow in testing social care workers, and they demonstrate the importance of regular reporting."

In the virtual Q&A with Ms Sturgeon, Mr Leonard said news of care home outbreaks and deaths was deeply distressing for care home residents, their families and staff.

Mr Leonard said: “People I speak to are feeling afraid and angry.

“They cannot understand why up till now, so few people have been tested, and why so many are still not getting the PPE they need. How can you justify this situation?”

Mr Leonard added: “People on the frontline keep warning of the consequences of failing to act quickly and on the scale required.

“The expression that is put to me is that it is too little, too late.”
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